What's Behind Trump's Unsupported Claim that Syria Is Planning a Chemical Attack?
June 29, 2017
Earlier this week, White House spokesperson Sean Spicer claimed that the United States allegedly "observed potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime." The charge of a Syrian chemical attack has been discredited as "fake news." The Trump administration's statements that it will not give proof of its allegations that the Syrian government is preparing a chemical attack have been criticized as being "out of line with norms of international relations."
Trump Resorts to "Fake News" to Justify His Threats to Syria
Statements' From US on Syria Could
Top UN Security Council's Agenda
MOSCOW (June 28, 2017) -- The Trump administration's statements that it will not give proof of its allegations that the Syrian government is preparing a chemical attack are out of line with norms of international relations, Russian political analyst Lev Klepatsky told Sputnik.
Earlier this week, White House spokesperson Sean Spicer claimed that the United States allegedly "observed potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime . . ."
According to Spicer, "the activities are similar to preparations the regime made before its April 4, 2017 chemical weapons attack."
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, for her part, said during a press briefing on Tuesday that that she could not provide evidence of the Syrian government 's alleged chemical attack preparations because that "would be considered an intelligence matter."
"So as you all are aware, there are a lot of these things that will pop up sometimes, that we just can't get into the details about this, but this has obviously gotten the attention of the United States government at the highest level," she said.
These remarks may be put on the table of the UN Security Council, Professor Lev Klepatsky of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Diplomatic Academy said in an interview with Sputnik.
"Such a statement does not comply with the norms of international relations. Washington's reluctance to give proof of its groundless statements about the Syrian government's preparations for a chemical attack can be seen as a declaration of war," Klepatsky said.
"This is why the UN Security Council may deal with this statement during its upcoming meeting. This should take a toll on the US and its international clout," he added.
Meanwhile, deputy White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that the United States believes that their signal on Syria is "extremely understandable." She did not elaborate.
Asked about what signal the White House wanted to send to the international community and the Americans by issuing allegations about the Syrian government's chemical attack preparations, Sanders said that "the signal from the White House is very clear," RIA Novosti reported.
At the same time, Sanders refused to explain how the US Administration had come to this conclusion.
The Independent, for its part, quoted sources in the Pentagon and the Central Command, which oversees the country's military operations in Syria and Iraq as saying that they "have no idea" why the White House made the statement on Damascus' alleged plans to launch a chemical attack.
On April 4, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, supported by the United States, blamed the Syrian government for an alleged chemical weapon attack in Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province which claimed the lives of dozens of civilians.
Reacting to the incident, Washington, which had not presented any proof that Damascus had used chemical weapons, launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian military airfield in Ash Sha'irat on April 6.
Damascus has repeatedly denied any involvement in the incident and said that the Syrian government doesn't possess chemical weapons as the full destruction of Damascus' chemical weapons stockpile was confirmed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in January 2016.
In an interview with Sputnik on April 21, Assad characterized the alleged chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun as a provocation to justify the US strike on Ash Sha'irat. The Syrian leader also warned of the possibility of new provocations similar to the one in Khan Sheikhoun.
What's Behind US Statement on
Damascus' 'Plans of Chemical Attack'
(June 27, 2017) -- While the White House claims that Damascus is preparing for a "new chemical attack," referring to the Idlib incident of April 4, American investigative journalist Seymour M. Hersh insists that the US military on the ground in Syria were aware that the alleged gas strike never took place.
A lot of controversy is surrounding the White House's recent statement regarding the "possibility" of Damascus launching "yet another" chemical attack against its civilians.
"The United States has identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime . . . The activities are similar to preparations the regime made before its April 4, 2017 chemical weapons attack," White House spokesperson Sean Spicer said Tuesday.
Dropping no hint where such an idea could have come from, Spicer added that "if . . . Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons he and his military will pay a heavy price."
Meanwhile, BuzzFeed News drew attention to a peculiar detail related to the statement: "many officials across the Pentagon did not know what the White House was referring to until Tuesday morning."
"Usually such statements are coordinated across the national security agencies and departments before they are released," the media outlet highlighted, citing five US defense officials including one US Central Command official.
The media outlet added that the officials said that they had no idea where the potential chemical attack would come from, although the White House insisted that "that all relevant agencies, including State, DoD, CIA and ODNI," were aware of the issue "from the beginning."
Amid the confusion sparked by the White House's statement, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley not only rushed to lambast the Assad government for "further attacks" but also pointed the finger at Russia and Iran.
"Any further attacks done to the people of Syria will be blamed on Assad, but also on Russia & Iran who support him killing his own people," Haley tweeted.
Still, the problem is that there is no evidence that the April 4 chemical incident in the Khan Sheikhoun area of Idlib province was the Syrian Arab Army's (SAA) "attack."
Quite the contrary, according to Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Seymour M. Hersh, the American military personnel on the ground in Syria were aware that the alleged chemical strike never took place.
The American investigative journalist shed new light on the incident providing Welt Am Sonntag newspaper with an alleged "chat protocol of a security advisor and an active American soldier on duty at a key base" in Syria concerning the alleged attack on Khan Sheikhoun.
"We KNOW that there was no chemical attack. The Syrians struck a weapons cache (a legitimate military target) and there was collateral damage. That's it. They did not conduct any sort of a chemical attack," the American soldier wrote.
"There has been a hidden agenda all along. This is about trying to ultimately go after Iran. What the people around Trump do not understand is that the Russians are not a paper tiger and that they have more robust military capability than we do," the security adviser answered.
The American personnel expressed concerns over potential retaliation on the part of Russia after the Trump administration authorized a Tomahawk strike on the Shayrat Airfield, used by the SAA to launch air attacks against Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) and Al-Nusra Front, on April 7.
"Russians are being extremely reasonable. Despite what the news is reporting they are still trying to deconflict and coordinate the air campaign . . . They're showing amazing restraint and been unbelievably calm. They seem mostly interested in de-escalating everything. They don't want to lose our support in the help with destroying Isis," the American soldier wrote on April 8.
The two military servicemen also raised the question whether President Trump had been familiar with the intelligence on the matter before he authorized the strike.
"What happened? Is it Trump ignoring the Intel and going to try to hit the Syrians? And that we're pissing on the Russians? . . . You may not have seen Trump's press conference yesterday. He's bought into the media story without asking to see the Intel," the security adviser underscored.
The White House statement prompts concerns whether the US is preparing for yet another strike against the SAA.
"In any case, it is Washington that looks very unsavory in this story: they either know about the upcoming attack and are not trying to prevent it, but knowingly put the uncomfortable Syrian leader in the wrong for that . . . . Or the United States is preparing its own preemptive strike on Syrian troops and appeals to the topic that is already 'famous' on a global level and will definitely justify any preventive action," Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the upper house of the Russian parliament's international affairs committee, said.
Previously, the US-led coalition has conducted at least four attacks against the pro-Damascus forces in Syria including the Syrian Su-22 fighter bomber shot down by an American F18 Super Hornet on June 18.
The reference to the Idlib chemical incident on the part of the White House evokes strong memories of Colin Powell's UN speech ahead of the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq.
On April 4, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces said the Syrian government had carried out a chemical weapons attack in the Khan Sheikhoun area of Idlib province.
For its part, Damascus denied any involvement in the incident referring to the fact that the SAA does not possess any chemical weapons as they had been destroyed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The incident was used by the United States as pretext for a missile strike against a Syrian military airbase on April 7.
Syrian Minister Calls White House
Chemical Attack Claim Preparation for 'New Aggression'
MOSCOW (June 27, 2017) -- Syrian Information Minister Mohammad Ramez Tourjman called the White House's statement about the alleged preparation of a chemical weapon attack by the Syrian government a "show" with the goal of eventually carrying out aggression against the country similar to the US April Tomahawk missile attack on a Syrian airfield.
Earlier in the day, the press service of the White House claimed that Syrian President Bashar Assad is allegedly preparing a new chemical attack, and promised that if it is implemented, the Syrian authorities will "pay a heavy price."
"This American show -- not the first and not the last one -- is a series played by the US administration, with threats of aggression against Syria. Trump's administration uses the pretext of a chemical attack to save its American-Zionist project in the region," Tourjman said.
"We all know that the American administration is shaping public opinion for a new aggression against Syria, just as we saw in the preparation of public opinion through the media in connection with Khan Shaykhun -- it ended with an attack on the airfield Ash Sha'irat. We must take this campaign seriously, for, as is known, the Trump administration will not miss the opportunity to do anything," the minister added.
The Kremlin commented on the White House's claim and said that it considers US' threats against Syrian legitimate leadership to be "unacceptable." Damascus also deniedthe information.
On April 4, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces supported by the United States blamed the Syrian government for an alleged chemical weapon attack in Khan Sheikhounin Syria's Idlib province.
Reacting to the incident, Washington, which had not presented any proof of the chemical weapons use by Damascus, launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian governmental military airfield in Ash Sha'irat on April 6.
Damascus has repeatedly denied any involvement in the incident and said that the Syrian government doesn't possess chemical weapons as the full destruction of Damascus' chemical weapons stockpile had been confirmed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in January 2016.
In an interview with Sputnik on April 21, Assad characterized the alleged chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun as a provocation to justify the US strike on Ash Sha'irat. The Syrian leader also warned of the possibility of the new provocations similar to the one in Khan Sheikhoun.
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